“And would you like dessert this evening?” said the waiter.
Carole shook her head, smiling.
“No, not for me either. Time for the bill” said Tony direct to the waiter, who nodded and walked away.
“I’ll just….you know” Carole said pointing to her face, rising and walking to the Ladies.
“So predictable” thought Tony, “no dessert, no frills”. She’d go to the Ladies immediately he asked for the bill. Solid and steady - that’s what he liked about her, and of course that arse now swaying its way through between the tables! What you see was what you got, a round, warm, homely soul with a huge heart. And huge tits that he loved to suckle into. He was mad about this woman. He had been depending on that very predictability tonight. He turned and got the nod from the waiter. He reached inside his jacket pocket and waited.
Once inside the Ladies, Carole let out a sigh. She’d been sure Tony was going to propose that evening, all the signs had been there, but it hadn’t happened. She wasn’t at all sure whether the sigh was of disappointment or relief. She was sure she loved him, not like other men she’d known. He was kind, appreciative, reliable, so good looking, great in bed, a real catch. A rugby player by profession, fit in all senses of the word, old and new. She checked her hair, reapplied her lipstick, and straightened her necklace – that had been a birthday present the previous year from him. “Well”, she thought, “I have a bit more time at least to tell him”.
All sorted, she walked back into the restaurant. They’d been coming here regularly on the anniversary of their accidental meeting here four years ago. She couldn’t even remember who it was she was supposed to meet that night, because from the first moment she set eyes on him sitting in the bar, it had only ever been him. Now there he was, as always, standing up when she re-entered the room and moving to her chair for her to sit back down. She recognised this as his cue that the bill hadn’t arrived yet. He was such a gentleman, such old fashioned manners but they pleased her.
However, instead of adjusting her chair towards the table Carole found herself placed side on, as Tony dropped to his knees “Carole Deakins, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife” In his hands a black velvet box was opening, a beautiful blue sapphire was shining, music was playing, but Carole saw none of it. She said nothing, but closed her eyes, took his face in her hands and kissed him. Her face was flush, her heart racing as the restaurant erupted in applause. The waiter arrived with two glasses of champagne with which they toasted each other and the room. Sitting back down, Carole kept taking small sips slowly. Gradually, the room’s attentiveness returned to their own meals, their own dates, and the hubbub of conversation again filled the air.
“That was nice of them to bring champagne” she said.
Tony returned her smile. “Let’s go home”
“Have you paid then?”
“No, they said they’d wave it if you said yes” he beamed and then whispered “You have said yes, haven’t you?” he was looking straight into her eyes and gently clasping her left hand with its shiny new sapphire between his.
“I….I need to tell you something, Tony” His face fell. His hand trembled. She pulled hers away. She’d rehearsed this so often, now the words seemed to be all jumbled in her head. “I….I love you, you know that don’t you?” Oh this wasn’t how she’d planned it at all, that wasn’t what she’d meant to say, how she’d meant to say it. Now he’d think the worst. “But there’s something I need to tell you. I need to be totally honest with you. It’s, it’s just one thing” she tried to sound reassuring, but wasn’t convinced she was. “My name’s not Deakins. Well, that was my mother’s maiden name. My father’s was ….Mine’s….McCockin” She grimaced and waited for the inevitable reaction as the penny dropped into place.
“So what difference does a name make? I love you, Carole. You say you love me. We’re happy, aren’t we? I want to marry you and spend the rest of my life….” and then his faced creased in a barely suppressed smile. “McCockin? Carole McCockin?” Now he couldn’t stop giggling and he repeated it trying to mimic her Scottish accent, “Ca’roll ma’ cock in”
“Don’t, I’ve heard it all before. You can’t imagine what it was like at school!”
“I’m sorry, really I am” he managed to muffle through his laughter. “Come here” He was back at her side with his arms around her holding her tight. “All the more reason to become a boring Smith, then” brushing away a tear with his finger as he caressed her face.
“Yes” she murmured in relief now that was all out in the open at last “plain Carole Smith sounds very nice to me”.
“Good. So in this moment of total honesty, I need to say something as well” He straightened up and look direct into here eyes. “I’m not a Tony, not even an Anthony. Goodness knows why but my parents named by Evelyn, well actually, I do know why, it was after an uncle who died in the War”
“Evelyn?” Carole smiled “a bit like Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” then.. ’How do you do?’ I can imagine what the boys make of that down the club”
“Not a word, no one else knows.”
“Oh, our secret pasts! Who’d have known it?”
“So Carole, will you marry me now?”
“Of course I will…sis” she joked and kissed him again “But no dressing up in my old clothes for next year’s charity game, I’ll never keep a straight face at that again! Let’s get home”
They walked out of the restaurant arm in arm giggling like schoolkids.
© Sheila Ash, 27th January 2017
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